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Saturday 31 December 2022

December in Review

 Heavy snowfall in Epping Forest, east London, December 2022

Dear friends.  December will be the month remembered for snow. We had a significant amount in London which took everyone by surprise. Just one centimeter had been forecast. It lasted for nearly a week in the freezing temperatures. In London this is very unusual! 

People took eagerly to the slopes in Yates Meadow with their toboggans and trays. The hubster and I enjoyed a walk in pristine snow, quite exhausting as it came several cms up the legs!

But the snow quickly became a nuisance, freezing over on ungritted pavements and minor roads. I walked to the gym in sturdy walking boots but it was still a nightmare, slipping and sliding.

This magnificent snow queen was a tribute to our late Queen I think.

Snow Queen memory of the late Queen Elizabeth on the a golf course bordering Epping Forest. Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton shakes her hand

The snow wasn't our only problem. There were lots of strikes in December and the stoppages on trains and the underground meant a couple of my planned outings had to be cancelled. I have sympathy for the public sector workers, of course, but the damage inflicted on the hospitality industry, at a time when its recovery is still tenuous following Covid, has been devastating.


It's become an annual outing now for the Hanlons: a trip to the National History Museum to see the Wildlife Photography Competition award winning photographs, followed by a pub lunch.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year winner was Karine Aigner from the USA with this picture of bees. Somehow I never seem to get a straight picture in art galleries! 

The winning photograph in 2022 Wildlife Photographer of the  Year

We then strolled to the Hereford Arms in South Kensington for our first Christmas lunch of the seasonn. Our table was tucked away in the corner - just as well, we are noisy boomers - and very festive. 

And here is the assembled throng, John and me (right), and his sisters Sue and Kate, brother-in-law Don and sister-in-law Yvonne.

Happy family Christmas lunch at the Hereford Arms in South Kensington

Kettlewell Colour Club Meet Up, Croydon

Our last gathering of the year started at its usual venue, the Clock Tower Cafe, and we then had an early dinner at Mr Fox. I was home by 8.15, in time for the second half of England v France in the World Cup. We lost.

There weren't many pictures of the gathering, and although I took a few pictures of my outfit, I then changed my mind at the last minute! 

Work Reunion, Swindon

I went to a lunchtime reunion in Swindon of the tech company where I spent 20 happy years. It was the first time I've been to a reunion. There's an annual curry meet-up for people who have retired. I must say, I was extraordinarily over-excited, but the reality didn't quite live up to expectations. It was a pleasant gathering and wonderful to meet up again with Jill and Caty,  two of my former colleagues from the same team, below.


I was a little ambivalent about Christmas this year. The tree didn't go up until the 18th, and it was only the skinny pop-up tree which is pre-lit and decorated, not the usual tree. Postal strikes meant most of our Christmas cards didn't arrive until Dec 29.

On Christmas Day it was the two of us, as it always is. My mother, who's 90, goes to my brother's as his family live very close to her. We had turkey crown, which I'd collected at 7am from Marks and Spencer the day before.  We had champagne and watched The Banshees of Inisherin  (see more in TV Reviews below). I also had my favourite pudding and the only one I eat, bread and butter pudding, served with marmalade and cream and a side order of Baileys!

On Boxing Day John's two children and their families came round for lunch and presents. We had a new addition to the family this year, our second grandchild Olive, now 8 months old. She's a very smiley baby and seems happy to eat anything! Here's John with Olive and her dad Sean. 

I normally use red and gold for my Christmas table settings but upped my game this year and bought some new peacock napkins and tablemats, tiny vases in jewel colours, and new water carafes and glasses, plus turquoise and teal baubles.

I wore my matching peacock skirt! I forgot to print off the menu, but here it is. 

The Nutcracker at the Royal Albert Hall

And finally December was rounded off with this festive ballet performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet. I went with Oxana and we had dinner first at the venue's gorgeous Coda restaurant. We have had no trains for over a week, this time because of engineering works, so I had to plan a route with buses and the underground, but it worked perfectly.

On the day we went, we had the sad news that Dame Vivienne Westwood had died. I wore my VW skirt, pre-loved, as a tribute. 

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton the over-60s style blog in Vivienne Westwood skirt and feather trimmed lemon jumper from Uterque

Also in December

Winter Solstice

I always look forward to the Winter Solstice because it signals the days getting longer. I watched sunrise over Stonehenge in a live stream, the day after Solstice, but it was cloudy so we didn't see the "money shot" of sun through the stones.

2022 Beauty Advent Calendar 

This year's beauty Advent Calendar was by MAC.  I thought I'd try this because it was make-up only. In the past I've had calendars from Look Fantastic, You Beauty, Decleor, Feel Unique and John Lewis, and sometimes they're hit and miss because you get brands you're familiar with, plus products you don't like very much. 

The MAC calendar was so-so.  They're trying to appeal to a very wide group of women - different ages, different colouring - so there were lots of make-up primers and the eyeshadows were mostly neutrals, browns and beige.  The lipsticks were fairly dark and won't suit me. I think I may now call it a day on beauty advent calendars! The calendars from Liberty and Selfridges appeal to me, but they are far too expensive. 

Goodbye to the Golf

My Golf GTI days are over.  My third Golf was sold to a specialist dealer and is now on sale for just four thousand pounds less than I paid for it, four years ago! This is because it's still a long process to buy a new car these days owing to the semiconductor shortage. My husband handled the sale throughout, as he knew I was a bit flaky about it. I was distraught when I looked out of the window and saw it heading off on its new adventure, so clean and shiny. 

I've never been emotionally attached to a car before but somehow this one was very special to me.  It seemed to signify a chapter in my life had closed.  My husband thinks it's all very foolish as we have a new and gorgeous electric car, and two retired people with low mileage needs don't need two cars, which is very true. 


TV Highlights

Film: The Banshees of Inisherin (Netflix)

We saved this for Christmas Day. I liked it, John was unimpressed. In a nutshell:  Colm (Brendan Gleason) doesn't like Pádraic (Colin Farrell) anymore. After years of daily pub visits together, Colm formally requests that Pádraic leave him alone and never speak to him again. Pádraic refuses to leave it at that.

Farrell has been nominated for an Academy Award, and justifiably in my view. His face registers different emotions so well.

Treason (Netflix)

We've just started this mini series which looks highly promising. It's a British spy thriller starring Charlie Cox as an MI6 agent and co-starring Tracy Ifeachor, Oona Chaplin, Ciarán Hinds and Olga Kurylenko. 

The Peripheral (Prime)

The plot is fairly incomprehensible but can be summarised as:  set in the future when technology has subtly altered society, a woman discovers a secret connection to an alternate reality as well as a dark future of her own.

It's not too demanding and fairly entertaining, although on occasion I find it ludicrous.  As with most modern dramas now, the women are very kick ass, and I particularly like the "old man" who's a ruthless killer, and wins many a fight against young opponents. 

Slow Horses (Apple TV)

The second series is as enjoyable as the first, although the complexities of the plot make it a bit unfathomable. The cast is relaxing into it and Gary Oldman as the scruffy, gruff and brilliant leader of the "slow horses" - MI5 agents who are in disgrace, or on their way out - continues to steal the show. 

Detectorists  (BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, Disney, HBO Max, Paramount)

Better late than never, I have discovered this gentle jewel. We started with the Christmas special but I'm now watching series 1 from the start.  There are beautiful bucolic countryside scenes with birds and skies as Andy (Mackenzie Crook) and Lance (Toby Jones) take their metal detectors out, hoping to find treasure from the Battle of Braintree.  There are ructions and spats too between the detectorists' club and their rivals;  between Andy and Lance occasionally, and between Andy and his long-time girlfriend. I love the recurring humour.  Simply wonderful.

Podcast Highlights

Why do we do that? BBC Sounds

This will appeal if you like your podcasts short, snackable and full of curious info.  Anthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi investigates the origins of everyday human habits and behaviour. Topics include: why do we doomscroll? Why do we sit down to poo? Why do we shake hands? Why do we kiss?

That's it for December! Come back on Sunday for my review of 2022. 


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  1. Banshees film...I'm with John, definitely not my favourite but the acting throughout was amazing. Also just started season 1 of Slow Horses, loving it. Try Shantaram Apple TV.

  2. We did watch Shantaram, John loved it but I wasn't overly keen. Soz!


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